American Music Awards 2011: Short on Thrills
With perfunctory performances and predictable winners, the show was missing that wow factor.
The best commercial during the show, unfortunately, wasn't actually a commercial, but rather J. Lo's performance of "Dance With Your Papi" with a Pitbull interlude. In case you hadn't seen enough of her and that teeny-tiny Fiat 500 during your regular television viewing hours, there was one onstage during the performance (or, some would say, striptease), in a moment of shameless branding.
And that brings us to the biggest "oops" moment. Is it wrong that we got really excited when J. Lo appeared to flounder and maybe even start to cry at the beginning of her "Papi" performance, just because it meant something worth talking about was happening? It turned out to be a fake-out that was all part of the act. We could practically hear Twitter sighing with disappointment. She ended up taking home the award for Latin Music (which she accepted in a dress that was more cutout than fabric, after practically sprinting onto the stage and proving that she could definitely teach Minaj a few lessons on how to get around in heels!).
We'd love to tell you there was a most controversial speech but sorry to disappoint: Just when you thought Minaj might take a dig at Lil' Kim, she decided to get super-gracious when accepting her award for Favorite Rap/Hip-hop Album, fake-cry for a minute and then thank "all female rap artists, past present and future." Very nice of her. Also very boring.
Winners Beyoncé and Rihanna, like Adele, had the right idea, skipping the event and giving their acceptance speeches via satellite. The introduction for Beyoncé's speech for Favorite Female Soul/R&B Artist suggested that she couldn't be there because she was "expecting," but her remarks made clear that she was perfectly capable of travel and was simply in New York doing something more important (and probably more entertaining).
Despite Lionel Richie and Vanessa Lachey's assertions toward the end of the show that the party was "about to get started" and that there were "a lot of surprises," we're not sure there were any -- unless you were totally shocked by Taylor Swift winning Best Country Album or Favorite Album going to Adele, in which case you probably don't have Internet access and aren't reading this.
Anyone who was still awake at that point was treated to a lively performance by LMFAO, complete with some sort of break-dance, running-man action from Justin Bieber, and a very unsexy strip-down revealing lots of smiley faces on crotches. It looks like the audience was bribed with free 3-D glasses to get on their feet during this final "party."
And that wrapped it up. We solemnly promise never to take for granted the entertainment factor offered by the VHI Hip Hop Honors again. If you happen to have DVR'd the show, we recommend you hold on tight to the three hours you'll never get back and skip to the complete list of winners, available here.
Jenée Desmond-Harris is a contributing editor at The Root.